Monday, January 14, 2008

I Wonder if They Call Me That?

I have just had an epiphany. Not the change-your-life kind or the I’m-such-a-genius-why-didn’t-I-think-of-that-before kind, but the stunned, holy-gracious-me-it-just-sunk-in kind.

The Boy and I are a childless couple.

Some stats: he’s 35.5, I’m days away from 31, we’ve been married for 6.42 years (Really? Are you sure? Oh, yep, there it is on the calendar. OK. Right.), we own our home, we have BIG debt, we have a nephew, he has a snowboard, I have a gym membership.

And we’re the ones who don’t have or intend to have kids. Some of our other married friends are in the don’t-have boat also, but I don’t recall knowing that anyone else is also rowing toward planning-not-to-have. Wow. One half of this blog is currently not in the family way or already maternal, but I’m the only quarter not anticipating that ever changing.

I was reading a play—Shining City, by Conor McPherson—and one of the characters says this:
… We’d been slightly left behind, a little bit, you know? All our … all our friends, they, you know, they had families. And, that … that … bound them together, you know?
… Look, that’s what people talk about. Of course they do. It’s perfectly normal to want to talk about the things that are happening in your life. But, you know, that was what we were always sort of on the edge of. You know, those conversations. You know, you’d be trying to, waiting for the subject to change and then of course, some stupid f%$@er would turn around and go, “Do you have any kids, yourself, John?” And I’d be, and I know that happened to Mari too, I’d be like, “Eh, no, no actually, I don’t.” Which’d be then … “Oh! Right! Okay!” You know?

But it didn’t really hit me that in fifteen years, that could be me or The Boy talking. It was, instead, this sweet and honest message on G Love’s other blog:
Childless friends, of which I have many: even though we’re heading down different roads, you will still be a huge priority in our lives. There’s plenty of room for love, of the parental kind and also the friend kind. My babies will be very precious, but they’ll never know what the ‘80s were like. I need you people in my life.

And I realized that she was talking to me. To me and my husband. Holy crap.

So now I walk around wondering if that’s how we’re described as a couple: “childless.” And if we’re pitied by people. Or envied. I wonder if women I see in stores or at restaurants look at me and can tell that I’m not a mommy. I wonder if they wonder if something’s wrong with me—or if they automatically think there is. Because I’m on the back side of five years of marriage and don’t have a kid and another on the way.

At dinner last night, The Boy and I were noticing how much pregnancy/childbearing/parenting was pervading our sphere right now, both personally and entertainment-world-wise. We saw Juno last week (a FANTASTIC film, by the way. Stop reading and go buy a ticket!) and since my epiphany is fresh, I felt like the movie was speaking just to me, directly and conspiratorially. It said, “See? You’re fine. You can watch someone else be ambivalent, even distressed, about being in the family way and you can watch another someone else yearn for motherhood—and you’re still at peace with your choice. You aren’t going to wake up in a cold sweat because your body changed your mind. You are a valuable human being without reproducing. You see the blessings and pitfalls on both sides of the fence from right here on the ‘not’ side where your grass is the perfect shade of green.”

I don’t want you to think this wonder is bitter or defensive or trying to hint that one choice (“-less” as opposed to “with”) is better than another. It’s just … you know … I was wondering.


Wicked M said...

I, um, don't know what to say. We're childless too and plan to be for quite a while. I don't know that I've ever wondered if people pitied us, but I do know that I've wondered if people call me heartless or cold for not being more maternal or for wanting a brood of babies.

It's still something I struggle with. Having a child is something that is life-altering in a completely irreversible way and it does change things -- for everyone. Once you have kids, the way you move through the world changes. Just like it did when you got married. It's same, but different.

I'll tell you what I call you guys through e-mail! It's nice, but I'm not sure that those in the family way would think it was so funny. I only wish sarcasm came across more effectively over the internet. :)

kaycee said...

I am right there with you, sister. After two weeks of visiting all the brand new babies back home, I personally felt the same kind of at peace with my choice that you did after viewing Juno. (Husband, on the other hand, does hear his bio clock ticking.) The Only thing that remotely, not bothered me, but kinda, was some of my friends said- "I understand Love now." Well, good for you- but, don't I understand what Love is too? You know how in greek their are like a million different words for the different kinds of love? Is that what they are saying? That there is a secret handshake kind of love that I will never participate in? Humph.

glove said...

Hmmm. I suppose some people do. To me of course, you're just Rin and stagexing. If you were less close friends of mine, I might wonder more, categorize you more. But being who we are to each other, it's just something I've always known and accepted about you.

I don't feel pity. Sometimes maybe a leeeetle envy - when I think about the freedom you guys have that we're about to lose. But that's true with any choice, I guess. Darlin' is absolutely green with envy over where you live, for example. I am green with envy over your professional lives. Perhaps you envy me my fantastically wonderful dog, or my groovin' 2003 Matrix with no hubcaps and 130000 miles already, dear God. Who knows!

By the way, I have several friends in the "not going to have" category. I fuss over their horses or cats or pet projects. They pat my baby bump and buy me little rompers and ask name picks. We revel in each others' happiness, whatever form it takes! We'll always be able to find something to talk about.

glove said...
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super jane said...

i just think it's bad that we've come to this. this whole 'who's on who's team' sort of a mentality. which is the way human nature is, i suppose, but it still irritates me.

why do we have to justify our reasons to have children or not? or rather, why do we feel the need to?

i don't think any less of people who decide not to have children. in fact, i think it's an admirable choice and a mature choice not to give in to societal 'expectations.' but i also hate feeling as though others look at me as a traitor for having children. like just because i decided to procreate with my husband i'm shunning my single friends or childless ones.

sadly enough, this whole pointing fingers dealy-ma-job goes both ways.